It’s a wrap! I have finally finished up all the home and lifestyle shots that I need to submit to the magazine that commissioned me! I’m very pleased with the outcome of the shoot and the collaboration of all involved. The most amazing thing was that the Amazonian people weren’t really scared, but rather intrigued. There were many occasions where the natives would circle around me in complete awe while I set up for each shot. It was so interesting to see the genuine curiosity that they had. It was innocent in the way that they were learning something new just as I was learning from them as well. It was the epitome of the grand exchange of connection that we all have in humanity as a whole. This is what makes being a digital nomad so rewarding and enriching!
Not only did I get a chance to interact with the Amazonian people and capture their tribes in all their glory, but I also got a chance to learn more about their culture and lifestyle. It’s one thing to learn these things from a tour guide, which I did at the beginning of the trip, but it takes the experience to a whole new level when you learn about the culture through the people themselves. It’s so raw! Additionally, its one thing to take pictures of the home and lifestyle of the people, but it’s another thing to actually engage in the lifestyle beyond what the image taken can portray. So this week, I want to give you a little taste of what I’ve learned upon living here among the people for the past several weeks.
In the Amazon, the number of tribes is as vast as the rainforest itself! It is estimated that there over 400 indigenous tribes dwelling in the Amazon and most have been there for centuries. In addition to the massive number of natives thriving here, there are also over 150 different dialects that they speak. Astonishing! I was also told that some of the tribes, about 50 of them, are not familiar with the world outside of their rainforest home at all. They are completely authentic and true to their ancient roots. It’s almost as if their lineage and history has been beautifully preserved like the mist that lingers within the thick trees that make up their home! However, I felt truly honored to be in the presence of the tribe I was allowed to shoot and interact with.
The Amazonian Way
As diverse as their tribes and language is, you can only imagine that their culture is just as colorful. They believe in animism, which is the belief that all things, both living and nonliving are inhabited by the spirits of animals. It would make sense that their belief system is set up this way because the various wildlife that lives there is astronomical! There are over 2,000 species of mammals and birds, over 1500 species of breath-taking butterflies (I have the pictures to prove it) and a good portion of the plant life there is considered beneficial when applied medicinally. No wonder they have no need for the Western way of living!
The Amazonian people make a living for themselves by way of subsistence farming, extractivism, and fishing. If you’re wondering what extractivism is, it’s the term used to describe the art of harvesting the natural products made from the rainforest in a way that will always maintain sustenance for its people. No wonder they have no need for the Western way of living!
As my exotic trip to this beautiful land starts to come to an end, I want to also express my concern for the preservation of this amazing place. The Amazon is considered the lungs of the planet. However the native peoples are constantly threatened by external forces such as mining of their land, oil reserves, logging and other ways that seek to suck this land of its vitality. Getting to know the people here has really given me even more passion to find ways to help slow down the process of assimilation that is starting to make their ancient ways disappear day by day. I am truly going to miss this place!